Soquel, California — Friday, September 23rd
You go, girl!
In a few weeks Damayanti will return to India, at the invitation of Srila Gurudeva, to live and serve in Sri Navadwip Dham. It is a big step for a young girl, and she is understandably nervous, so I sent her an email to encourage her in her endeavor. Imagine my surprise, therefore, to read her latest entry, Existential Crisis: A Bad Start, which begins:
"This morning I received a letter of encouragement and support from Sripad Akinchan Maharaj — which did anything but encourage and support me!"
Gulp! Me and my big, fat, mouth!
At first I was a little troubled: "Oh, I am the cause of her hesitation now. Because of me, she is wavering..." But then I realized: "No. This is good for her. She must confront these doubts before she jumps into the unknown."
Besides, she is not really facing an existential crisis (she knows who she is and what she wants to do) or even a theistic crisis (she has faith in Krishna and the order of Srila Gurudeva) but just a plain old, run-of-the-mill, garden-variety, case of the willies :-)
It is quite understandable that she feels apprehensive, because, as she writes, "I am only one young girl, and I will be trying to do what many have been unable to do in the past..."
I think it's a good beginning, not a bad start. This kind of anxiety and self-examination can only be good for her: it will consolidate her faith.
We are theists, not existentialists; we are optimists, not pessimists. As theists, we believe in a happy, personal relationship with the family of God, not in the stoical isolation of the individual in an indifferent, hostile universe. We are subjective beings with a service objective in the super-subjective conscious world of reality, not isolated islands of subjectivity marooned in an objective world devoid of significance.
So she'll be okay. She knows that she has already crossed the Rubicon, that she has passed the point of no return, because as she says: "I am going with the faith that I will be successful because it is Srila Gurudev's desire that I [stay in Navadwip]."
And if she does not take this step, what will she do? Nothing she does will be as important, or as beneficial, as the time — however brief! — that she can exclusively dedicate herself to the service of Srila Gurudeva. And there is no time like the present:
Forget the past that sleeps and ne'er
The future dream at all,
But act in time that are with thee
And progress thee shall call.
Going to live in Navadwip is just one small step, no doubt, but there is so much future potential encapsulated in it... if only she knew!
So there is really no need for her to be afraid. She must ultimately be successful because she is not acting arbitrarily, but under the guidance of Srila Gurudeva, who has asked her to come to Navadwip: "I will be very happy if you stay here."
In Chapter Nine of Sermons of the Guardian of Devotion (Volume III), Srila Sridhar Maharaj tells the story of one of his godbrothers who joined the mission at the age of eighteen, and received sannyas from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupad at the young age of twenty-eight.
Before he could accept sannyas, however, someone discouraged him, saying, "You are so young and it is not sure how long you will live, so to take so much risk is not very wise!"
This caused the brahmachari to vacillate, and he confessed, "Prabhupad has proposed [that I take sannyas] but I am hesitating... and some of my friends are also misleading me."
When Srila Sridhar Maharaj informed Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Prabhupad of the brahmachari's hesitation, Srila Bhaktisiddhanta responded:
"Why are you frightened? It is this world that is a fearful place! All fear is confined here in this plane, but you are going to take shelter above this area of fear. You are going to take shelter in the abhaya pada, the fearless Holy Feet. You are going to enter into the fearless area; you are going to connect with the fearless world. Where is the fear? Fear is in this world, so do not have any apprehension."
You have to admire Damayanti's courage. Such a young girl making such a noble attempt!
In the Chaitanya Charitamrita (Madhya Lila 8:70), it is said:
kriyatam yadi kuto 'pi labhyate
tatra laulyam api mulyam ekalam
janma-koti-sukrtair na labhyate
"Pure devotional service in Krishna consciousness cannot be obtained even by performing pious activities for hundreds and thousands of births. It can be attained only by paying one price: an intense eagerness to obtain it! So wherever it is available, it must be purchased without hesitation."
You go, girl!
Berkeley, California — Friday, September 30th
This evening Para Devi Dasi (encouraged by Braja Mohini Devi Dasi, and assisted by Madhavendra Prabhu and Krishna Sevaka Devi Dasi) hosted a nama-sangha program at her house in Berkeley (on the other side of the San Francisco bay).
This nama-sangha (spiritual outreach) program is, to my knowledge, the first that we have had in California in recent years. For two hours — from 7:00–9:00 p.m. — Parvat Maharaj and I and about a dozen other devotees sing kirtans, discuss our Krishna conscious philosophy, and end the meeting with a delicious prasadam meal (and cake!).
I am reminded of the nama-sangha programs that we have in Russia. Many of our centers in Russia, Siberia, and the Ukraine got their start with programs just like this.
So when Para Devi Dasi says that she would like to host this program on the last Friday of every month I encourage her to do so. There is so much potential in this modest beginning...
Layout by iMonk — September 30th, 2005.